Lego have come under fire from the Turkish Cultural Community of Austria, for alleged racism. The offending item, in Lego’s vast product range, is Jabba the Hut’s Palace, part of a Star Wars collection made by the toy company. In a statement, the community’s leaders claimed that the palace closely resembles the Hagia Sophia mosque in Istanbul, the Jami al-Kabir mosque in Beirut and a minaret.
They claim that the palace toy set reinforces negative stereotypes about the Middle East. The statement, on their website was reported on by The Telegraph. In the statement, the Austrian community group threatened Lego with legal action, if it does not withdraw the toys. “The terrorist Jabba the Hutt likes to smoke a hookah and have his victims killed,” say the group. “It is clear that the ugly figure of Jabba and the whole scene smacks of racial prejudice and vulgar insinuations against Asians and Orientals as people with deceitful and criminal personalities.” Lego denied the link, their spokeswoman Katherine Strasse told The Telegraph “The Lego Star Wars product Jabba´s Palace does not reflect any actually existing buildings, people, or the mentioned mosque.”
As The Huffington Post point out, this isn’t the first time that Lego have been accused of racism. It has previously been pointed out, by The Wired, that the majority of non-white faces in the Lego range are actually scowling. And as for George Lucas’ Star Wars, this isn’t their first encounter with allegations of racism, either. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace was accused of racism for reinforcing Asian stereotypes amongst its villainous characters.